Joseph Parker says people slept on Andy Ruiz Jr, calls for rematch

Anthony Cocks

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The only man to defeat Andy Ruiz Jr as a pro has spoken out about the new heavyweight champion’s shock seventh-round knockout of Anthony Joshua at New York’s Madison Square Garden last Saturday night.

Joseph Parker, who defeated the Mexican-American by majority decision for the vacant WBO heavyweight title in 2016, believes that Joshua overlooked his opponent.

“I think a lot of people underestimated him. He came out with a point to prove,” said Parker to FightHype. “He came out firing. He knew he would come out to take a few shots in order to land his own shots. He’s got great hand speed, great pressure. He was doing everything right. I think he was following the plan what his team had.

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“For me, he put on a great performance against someone who is a knockout puncher and is a beast in the ring, Joshua himself. All credit to Andy; he put on a great performance. He made history being the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the world. Credit to him and his team.

“It was a little surprising the way that he [Ruiz] was able to catch him [Joshua] so many times, and how he was able to let his hands go and get in close, but we weren’t surprised that he won.

“We knew he had the ability to put on a great performance and the ability to walk him down and land the punches he needed to throw in the end. We were a little surprised. When I beat him in 2016, it was a good victory for me.”

The 27-year-old Kiwi, who lost his WBO championship on points in a unification bout with Joshua last year, said he would be happy for the opportunity to fight Ruiz Jr in a rematch.

“Ruiz is a different fighter now and I’m a different fighter now,” Parker continued. “So it’ll be good for us to get in the ring again, and have a fight in the future. But I know there’s a rematch clause in the contract for Joshua and I’m sure Joshua is interested in getting those belts back.”

Parker said it was his intelligent gameplan that got his the victory over Ruiz Jr the first time out.

“Being intelligent, and sort of dodging the punches,” Parker said of the victory. “He’s got heavy hands. I think ultimately, I wasn’t able to throw enough punches and get to Joshua. Against Ruiz, I was able to pick him off, and throw the combinations I needed to throw, but not get in the danger zone. When you get in close, he’s very dangerous. His hands are a lot faster in close. He wants to fight on your chest, and that’s when he’s able to release his combinations with his fast hands.

“If he wants to prove that he won the first fight… if he wants to prove it, then we’re here to accept any challenge at any time. You’ll have to wait and see. Let’s make the fight [Parker vs. Ruiz] happen. We’re focusing on our fight on June 29 in Rhode Island. I’m very excited to be fighting for Matchroom and in the US.”

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